“Images of young people using their cars to race, intimidate, make excessive noise, generally threaten the public, are an unwanted feature of many communities in this country.” [Prime Minister John Key] says. He says his government will not watch by without trying to combat it.
Key says he makes no apologies for the harsh consequences either. (…)
Transport Minister Steven Joyce, who introduced the Enforcement Powers Bill, said illegal street racing was a national problem.
“As well as threatening public safety, illegal street racers cause excessive noise, disruption and intimidation.” (…)
“The Government and the public have lost patience with drivers who use their vehicles in an anti-social manner.”
The Vehicle Confiscation and Seizure Bill will:
-Allow vehicles to be seized and destroyed as a new penalty for illegal street racing
-Allow vehicles repeatedly used by people with overdue traffic fines to be seized and sold to pay those fines
-Enable Police and Courts to target illegal street racers who commit offences in another person’s vehicle
The Land Transport (Enforcement Powers) Amendment Bill will include provisions to:
- Allow local authorities to create bylaws that prevent vehicles repeatedly “cruising” city streets
- Allow the compulsory impoundment of vehicles involved in illegal street racing
- Introduce demerit points for noise offences, licence breaches and registration plate offences. This will ensure repeat offenders will lose their licenses, rather than just accrue fines.
I find the focus on ‘intimidation’ and ‘anti-social’ driving rather troubling. The legislation is pandering to the same sort of bigoted public sentiment which fueled prior panics over rock & roll, punk, etc.
I’m no car enthusiast myself (I drive an ’83 Corona, for what it’s worth) and in no way condone dangerous driving. But we already have laws against dangerous driving and street racing, and it’s not clear to me the penalties are too light. My main problem with the law, though, is that it does more than simply crack down on dangerous driving. Being able to lose your driving license for having your car stereo too loud seems ridiculous, as does allowing councils to stop drivers from ‘cruising’ city streets.
This legislation is not primarily about road safety, but the moral distaste many people have for spiky-haired hoodlums in loud and garish cars. I, for one, think it’s a bigoted piece of populist crap.